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Summary for May 10 - May 14, 2010:
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Top Story

Report: Port of Portland to lease its box terminal

A Philippine company will pay the Port of Portland $8 million initially and make annual rent payments of $4.5 million to operate the port's only container terminal for 25 years, according to lease details released Thursday.

That totals $120.5 million over the life of the lease, although officials said the deal was worth $70 million in net present value, a measure of what it's worth to the port in today's dollars.

Port director Bill Wyatt said the deal will protect the port from the ups and downs of the volatile shipping industry, while increasing the size of its container business and keeping high-paying longshore, warehousing and trucking jobs in the city.

The Manila company runs half a dozen terminals in the Philippines, including one in Subic Bay. It also operates terminals in Brazil, Poland, Indonesia, Syria, China and Ecuador.

The sprawling T6 terminal, upriver from the Columbia's confluence with the Willamette River, handles about 250,000 "twenty-foot equivalent units" a year, an industry standard for container measurement.

Port officials are hopeful ICTS will be able to boost that to about 400,000 TEUs without expanding capacity.

-The Oregonian

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ICTSI Q1 profit leaps 107 percent

Manila-based International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) announced its first quarter profit increased
107 percent over the same period the previous year to $22.8 million with revenue of $120.7 million - a 30 percent increase

The company said its cargo volume increased 14 percent with total throughput up 27 percent at 962,028 TEUs.

The company has container operations in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Global box fleet hits 14 mil TEUs

The global containerized fleet has increased to 14 million TEUs, according to a report by the Paris-based consultancy Alphaliner.

The report said it took 17 months, or twice as long, to reach the 14 million-TEU mark from its previous level due to the impacts of the global economic crisis.

The container-shipping fleet totals out at 5,905 vessels, of which almost 96 percent are cellular box ships at 13.4 million TEUs, the report said.

FedEx orders four 777 freighters from Boeing

FedEx announced Friday that it has ordered four more 777 freighters, part of the 20 new 777 orders from undisclosed customers that Boeing reported Thursday on its website.

The order is worth just over $1 billion at list prices. After standard discounts, the actual price estimated by aircraft valuation firm Avitas is about $645 million.

FedEx, which is moving aggressively to renew its fleet as the cargo market recovers, said it also will buy two 777 freighters indirectly from another source.

Earlier this year, FedEx bought two never-used 777 freighters from Air France.

-Seattle Times

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Port of Mobile cordons off with containment boom fence

Crews labored through the weekend to cordon off the entrance to Mobile Bay with a containment boom fence in a novel bid to safeguard America's ninth-largest seaport from the oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.

The barrier, anchored to newly driven pilings and designed with a double gate in the middle to enable ships to pass without letting oil into the bay, was expected to be completed by Sunday evening or early Monday, said Judith Adams of the Alabama State Port Authority.

Access to the 500-foot-(152-metre) wide shipping channel in the middle will be gained through a tugboat-driven double gate through which ships entering the bay from the Gulf will pass. Vessels will stop between the barriers to be checked for oil contamination, cleaned if necessary, and then allowed through.


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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Northwest Intermodal Conference

Westwood Shipping Lines to Call Portland

Westwood Shipping Lines will begin a new service to Japan ports out of the Port of Portland starting July 1.

The news was announced by port Executive Director Bill Wyatt, who kicked-off Cargo Business News’ Northwest Intermodal Conference in Portland, OR, Tuesday.

“We’ll have new carrier serving our market with six vessels,” Wyatt said. He said that Westwood, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Weyerhaeuser Company and based in Federal Way, WA, is basically part of the “hometown team” in the Pacific Northwest.
Westwood will use handy-max vessels in the 30,000 metric-ton range. They carry a mix of general cargo, container and bulk cargoes. The cargoes to Japan will include newsprint, linerboard and other forest products.

Under the one-year agreement, Westwood the service initially will be once a month to various Japanese ports, including Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Shimizu, and Niigata. Frequencies could increase, depending on demand.

The Westwood development comes on the heels of another major move at the port, the recent decision to lease the port’s underutilized Terminal 6 container facility to International Container Terminal Services Inc. The 25-year agreement between the port and Manila-based ICTS means the port will no longer be the only publically-operated port on the West Coast.

Wyatt added ICTS will operate exclusively out of Portland, with no other operations on the West Coast.

The two recent developments “add to an exciting mix of services on the West Coast,” Wyatt said. This is a nice punctuation to what’s been a tough time for all of us.”

The Port of Portland Commission is expected to approve the ICTS lease on Wednesday.

Hackett: Recession Over, Recovery Sustainable

Economist Ben Hackett, principal of Ben Hackett Associates, said today that the Great Recession is over, and that a sustainable period of recovery and growth is underway.

Speaking at the Northwest Intermodal Conference in Portland, which is presented by Cargo Business News, Hackett also expressed confidence that the chances of a “double-dip” recession occurring are slim.

“Things come in cycles; growth is followed by decline and decline is followed by growth, the recession was the worst one in 60 years, but there is growth and it’s growth that is sustainable,” he said.

Hackett pointed to several positive indicators to support his conclusion that there is a “positive change in the economy.” Consumer demand is growing at 1.5 to 2 percent per month, for example. Even at that low rate, “this results in trade growth.” He added that inventory-to-sales ratios are getting back in balance and to more traditional levels..

“We’re in a sustainable growth period because there is no huge surge occurring – it is based on what consumers want.”

Also, the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which he said is a better growth indicator that GDP has been steady at plus-50 for the last nine months.

Container trade was down 9 percent last year, with the trough occurring in the third quarter. The current recovery is slow, closer to a u-shape, rather than a v-shape, Hackett continued, “but by the end of 2009 it was clear that this growth rate was sustainable.”

For the West Coast he predicted container “growth throughout the year, reaching double-digit growth.” The Pacific Northwest meanwhile “bucked the trend” and is positioned nicely due to shifts in market share. The region also posted only three quarters of decline during the recession, much lower than the West Coast in general.

He explained that a double-dip recession is unlikely because of the slow but sustainable pace of growth and recovering consumer confidence that is occurring. “But the economy will come under pressure.”

“Economic growth is cyclical,” Hackett said. In the U.S. the consumer is king, “so watch the consumer and retailers’ inventory levels.” But also “beware of statistics and consensus economic opinions. In the end it’s a dog-eat-dog world.”

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Top Story

Long Beach-LA. Ports report strong box numbers for April

At the Port of Los Angeles, the number of containers arriving from overseas rise about 8.3% from the same month a year earlier, while exports increase 12.4%. Long Beach sees gains of 21.2% in imports from a year earlier and 15.2% in exports.

Trade at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continued to rebound in April, marking the fifth straight month of cargo gains at the nation's busiest seaport complex.
At the Port of Los Angeles, imports rose about 8.3% to 302,225 containers from the same month a year earlier. Exports from Los Angeles were up even more sharply, rising 12.4% to 158,338 containers. That reflected the weakness in the U.S. dollar, which was making U.S. goods more affordable overseas. In the first four months of the year, the port moved more than 2.2 million containers, a 9% improvement over the same period in 2009.

At Long Beach's port, imports rose 21.2% to 241,245 containers, from a year earlier. Exports were up 15.2% to 130,155 containers compared with a year earlier. From January through April, Long Beach moved 1.75 million containers, up 16.6% over the same period last year.

-L.A. Times

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RailAmerica carloads rose 10.7 percent in April

Short-line rail operator RailAmerica Inc. said Wednesday that freight carloads in April rose 10.7 percent over a year ago, helped by strength in waste and chemicals.

The company counted 73,136 freight carloads, up from 66,091 in April 2009. The numbers excluded RailAmerica's discontinued Ottawa Valley Railway operation.

The company said it registered increased shipments in eight of 12 commodity groups, led by waste and scrap materials, chemicals, and ores and metals.

Shipments of coal and pulp and paper products fell.

RailAmerica runs 40 railroads with 7,400 miles of track in 27 states and three Canadian provinces.

Shares rose 41 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $12.68.

-Bloomberg BusinessWeek

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Amports to lay off 116 in Baltimore after losing contract to Phila. port

Amports, a company that processed Hyundai and Kia car shipments at the port of Baltimore since 2002, is laying off 116 people after it lost a contract to the Philadelphia port.

The news comes less than a month after the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority announced that it and a local company had lured Glovis of America to the port. Glovis had previously imported 150,000 Hyundai and Kia automobiles every year through the ports of Baltimore and Newark, N.J., according to Philadelphia port officials.

As a result of the loss of the contract, Amports warned the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation late last month that it would lay off the workers by July 1. Amports officials could not be reached for comment. The port of Baltimore saw about 400,000 vehicle shipments in the last fiscal year which ended June 30, down by about a third from the previous year.

In December, the port struck a deal to import about one-fifth of all BMW vehicles – about 50,000 a year -- arriving in the United States, which port officials said would generate 200 jobs.

-Baltimore Sun

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NY-NJ port seeks first-ever private funding for bridge replacement

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, faced with falling revenue, wants private investors to provide at least $1 billion to build a new Goethals Bridge, the 81-year-old, 1.3-mile (2-kilometer) span between New York City’s Staten Island and Elizabeth, New Jersey.

It would be the first such private transaction for the 89- year-old Port Authority, where declining income from fees and tolls forced agency officials to reduce its 10-year capital spending plan this year by 17 percent to $24.5 billion, said Stephen Sigmund, its spokesman.

-Bloomberg BusinessWeek

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Railroad group’s Q1 lobby expense cut by more than half

The Association of American Railroads spent $1.7 million to lobby the federal government in the first quarter, according to a recent disclosure report.

That's down significantly from the $3.7 million the North American railroad industry's main trade group spent in the fourth-quarter of 2009 and the $2.8 million it spent in the first quarter last year.

The group lobbied the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on bills to create more "clean energy" jobs, create energy independence and reduce pollution. Railroads are considered a "greener" alternative to trucking because rails can haul more freight using less fuel.

AAR also lobbied on a bill to reauthorize the Surface Transportation Board, which governs the railroad industry, a bill to amend federal antitrust laws and a bill to provide incentives to invest in the expansion of freight rail infrastructure, as well as appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Homeland Security.

-Bloomberg BusinessWeek

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Shipyard CEO, port commissioner, earn Puget Sound achievement awards

The 2010 Puget Sound Maritime Achievement Award was given to Todd Shipyard’s CEO Steve Welch on Tuesday at the annual Seattle maritime festival luncheon aboard the Carnival Cruise Lines’ Spirit during that vessel’s inaugural call at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 91.

The award, according to the Seattle Propeller Club: “is presented annually to an individual who has shown outstanding leadership and brought great credit or economic benefit to the maritime interests of the region.”

Welch was recognized “for his inclusive, team–oriented management style, which has assured Todd Shipyard is known for timely and quality workmanship, despite a backlog of business,” according to the Propeller Club’s press release.

The 2010 Puget Sound Maritime Industry Public Official of the Year award went to Port of Seattle Port Commission President Bill Bryant “for his leadership in making the key role the port plays in our regional economy known to elected officials and Puget Sound civic leadership and for assuring that the environment does not suffer as the port aggressively seeks to expand employment and trade opportunities for residents of our state,” the statement said.

Past recipients include senators Patty Murray and Slade Gorton, representatives Norm Dicks, port commissioners Pat Davis and Ted Bottiger, and state Representatives Ed Murray, Helen Sommers, and Karen Schmidt.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Top Story

Report: Virginia and APMT reach $800 mil lease agreement

The Virginia Port Authority and private operator APM Terminals Inc. have reached an agreement in principal that grants the state a 20-year lease of APM's $500 million Portsmouth marine terminal, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Thursday.

The state-owned port authority will pay APM $40 million annually over the next 20 years for the lease. APM also will receive incentive payments if cargo volumes at the terminal exceed 500,000 20-foot containers a year. Those payments would come from the revenues the port authority derives from handling cargo.

McDonnell revealed details of the deal in a speech at the Virginia Maritime Association's 90th annual International Trade Symposium and Maritime Banquet.

At 20 years, the lease would give the port authority additional temporary capacity to handle an expected influx of cargo while it develops Craney Island as a new marine terminal, a project that is expected to cost about $2.5 billion.

-Daily Press

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Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd Q1 results signal industry shift back to profitability

Denmark's AP Moller-Maersk, owner of the world's largest container shipping line, announced yesterday a sharp swing back into profit in the first quarter and predicted full-year results would be better than expected.

Maersk's figures provided the latest evidence of the sector's revival and came as Germany's Hapag-Lloyd, one of the container lines worst hit by the slump, also claimed it had returned to profitability.

Tui, the tourism group that owns 43 per cent of the operator, said Hapag-Lloyd had recorded underlying earnings before interest, tax and amortisation of €13m ($16.4m) for the January to March quarter, against a €222m loss last year, on revenue up 13 per cent to €1.3bn.

Maersk's container shipping and related activities division - dominated by the Maersk Line container shipping operation - carried 20 per cent more containers in the first quarter of 2010 than in 2009. It produced net profits of $168m, compared with a $581m loss last year, on revenue up 23 per cent to $5.75bn.

For the group as a whole, first quarter net profits were $639m, against a $373m loss last time, on revenue up 20 per cent to $13.2bn.

-Financial Times

For the full story: www.ft.coml

CMA CGM expands Asia-U.S. Gulf service

The French shipping group, CMA CGM announced it would the Port of Mobile, Alabama and Pusan, Korea to its PEX3 service between Asia and the Gulf of Mexico as of May 20, 2010.

The shipping line said it is the only container-shipping company making direct calls to the U.S. Gulf Coast and that the upgrade would include extended service from North China via the Pusan trans-hipment hub, and an additional exit port for U.S. exporters with access to the company’s Middle and Far East destinations.

The company said the new PEX3 rotation will be Singapore, Hong Kong, Chiwan, Shanghai, Pusan, Panama Canal, Manzanillo, Houston, Mobile, Miami, Jacksonville, Savannah, Charleston, Tangiers, Jebel Ali, Singapore.

New York lawmakers blast DHS over security cuts

New York lawmakers blasted the Homeland Security Department Wednesday for not reconsidering planned cuts to New York's transit and port security grants despite the May 1 Times Square bomb attempt.

Like other cities, New York City will see its funding cut by about a quarter in grant awards that DHS is to announce Thursday after Congress reduced 2010 appropriations for each program from $400 million last year to $300 million this year.

New York City's public transportation security grant will drop from $153.3 million last year to $110.6 million this year, while its port security grant will dip from $45 million to $33.8 million, the lawmakers said.

But DHS countered Thursday that the New York City area will actually see an increase of $47 million in combined transit and port security funding. The stimulus bill passed last year included an additional $300 million for the two programs, and New York City area agencies will be getting about $100 million of that amount, a spokesman said.

-Security Info Watch/Newsday

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First Copper River salmon cargo hits SeaTac

The launch of the anticipated Copper River salmon season included the first such cargo arriving at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport aboard an Alaska Airlines freighter on Friday.

The Copper River king and sockeye salmon cargo was for three major seafood processors: Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Trident Seafoods and Copper River Seafoods.

Alaska Airlines said in a statement it carried more than 25 million pounds of fresh Alaska seafood to the Lower 48 states and beyond last year, including nearly 700,000 pounds of Copper River salmon.

"Alaska Airlines flies more Copper River salmon throughout the season than any other airline," said Joe Sprague, Alaska's vice president of marketing.

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